Thursday 23 May 2019

Inspections.. more than meets the eye

Anyone who knows me as a real estate agent, or has worked with me, will not be surprised to hear that I think home inspections are an important part of the home-buying process. 

When it comes to [what makes a good inspector], one of the most important traits is their ability to explain things and put them in context. I've seen purchases killed by an inspector who didn't fully explain something or what it takes to correct it.  Every inspection will find flaws (that's their purpose), so it's important to also get an idea of how serious they are.

Of course, that's not to say that knowledge and thoroughness are not important.  One of the challenges with a home inspection is that we are limited to what can be observed.  But a professional inspector knows there can be 'more than meets the eye', similar to a huge iceberg with only a small part showing at the top.  Inspectors are trained to see things most of us won't.. little hints and clue that there might be something more serious hiding. 

A [good home inspector] will also come with a complete tool kit to help them explore a bit further than the naked eye allows.  A couple of tools whose value shouldn't be underestimated are the moisture meter and a thermal camera.

The moisture meter is a handy little tool that can help to identify potential leaks in foundation, plumbing or roof.  You place it against a surface and it will give a moisture reading.  What a 'normal' reading is will depend on the material (drywall, plaster, wood panel, etc), and knowing what is typical allows the inspector to interpret the reading and know whether there is a potential issue.  However, the moisture meter is limited in that you have to touch the right spot to find a problem. It's possible to use one and still miss something because you just didn't happen to get the right spot.

Enter the thermal camera.  I love this gadget.  Without getting too technical, a thermal camera reads surface temperature and presents a visual reading showing the temperature ranges on a digital screen. A good one is sensitive enough that it will show your hand print if you touch a wall for a few moments, because your hand leaves behind some heat.  Using the thermal camera, an inspector can do a quick and easy visual sweep of walls and ceilings to identify missing/flawed insulation, air leaks, and even moisture problems - all of which can result in a variation in temperature.

And I can say from personal experience that these tools come in handy.. I've recently been on an inspection that went fairly well.  But then near the end, between the thermal camera and moisture meter, the inspector identified a likely plumbing leak hidden behind the dining room ceiling.  In this case, the buyer proceeded with the purchase but they were able to do so as an informed decision... that issue can be fixed in a timely fashion rather than coming up as a surprise when a piece of the ceiling falls off.

Saturday 4 May 2019

How important is preparing your property for sale?

So you're thinking of putting your house on the real estate market soon. But how important is it, really, to do some preparation work first?

Somewhere between pretty important and essential.

In a hot sellers' market, you want to make the best first impression with the potential buyers coming through.

But on the other hand, in a slower buyers' market, you have more competition for fewer buyers.
Either way, if you want to sell quickly and for top dollar, you will need to give some serious thought to what is needed to prepare your property.

And a half-way job won't do either. There's no point in de-cluttering if you're not going to keep the property clean for showings, and even the cleanest property can take longer to sell if small repair jobs are left as eyesores. And I have personally seen a property that was completely prepared on the inside flounder on the market because the seller left a major curb appeal issue un-resolved.

If you're not sure what to do, my best advice is... get advice.

Ask a professional real estate agent (I'm happy to help with this) or hire a professional stager. Get that honest outside evaluation and make a list of stuff that needs to be done before listing for sale. Then make like Nike and just do it.

Wednesday 1 May 2019

Is it worth it to try a really low offer on a property?

There is nothing wrong with trying a real low-ball as long as you are reasonable in your expectations. 

For one thing, you certainly shouldn't be surprised if they are not willing to accept it.  For that matter, you should be prepared for them to be offended and simply choose not to even send back a counter-offer. 

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about a normal offer coming in below list price to leave room for negotiation.  Nobody wants to pay full price if they can help it and a little bit of haggling is to be expected, but no seller wants to sell below fair market value either.

Properties typically sell within 5% of list price at the time of the offer.  (Obviously, competing offers changes the situation completely)  So if you're 20% below the list price, it's most likely going to be a tough sell.  Even if you honestly think the property is only worth your lower price, the seller obviously has different thoughts on the matter.  You can still try, nonetheless, if you have an agent who is willing to do it.

If you're looking for an investment property, it might be what you need to do in order to make the deal work for your long term goals.  I always advise investor clients to keep emotion out of it and offer only what they are comfortable with for their purposes.

A low offer is a bit riskier if you're looking for a personal home and the house you're offering on is "the one", since you might well offend them to the point where they simply won't be very cooperative with you, even if you bring in an offer closer to what they are looking for.  And as a side note, if you can't afford the house without the much lower price, you might want to re-visit your needs and wants to bring them in line with your buying power.

In any case, talk to your real estate agent and get their opinion.  Sometimes really low offers will work out.  And often they won't, so it's just a matter of managing expectations.